What are they and where you can find them in Ohio

Pawpaw, the other native fruit

It's September and that means it's time for pawpaw season in Ohio. 

The small green fruit is native to the Eastern U.S. and has been in the Ohio River Valley region for over 30,000 years. Today, there are still wild pawpaw trees all over Ohio, usually found by rivers and in the shade. 

For lovers of the fruit, Thursday is National Pawpaw Day, a celebration of all things pawpaw. The annual commemoration is held on the third Thursday of September. 

After the national day on Thursday, there's also the annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival in Albany this weekend. Running Sept. 17-19, the festival will feature a pawpaw cook-off, pawpaw beer, pawpaw-related works of art and more. 

What is a pawpaw?

The fruit is indigenous to 26 states in the U.S., extending from northern Florida to Southern Ontario and as west as eastern Nebraska, according to Kentucky State University's Pawpaw Research Project, the only full-time pawpaw research program in the world.

Several Ohio pawpaws harvested in late September of 2020.

Pawpaws are also sometimes known as the Kentucky banana or the hillbilly mango. 

What does a pawpaw taste like?

The kidney-shaped fruit is green, with a creamy, avocado-like texture that tastes a bit like mango, pineapple and banana.

The pawpaw’s orange-yellow pulp can be used as an ingredient in gourmet items such as ice cream, wine and pies.

How to eat pawpaws

Cut the fruit in half with a knife, avoid cutting the hard seeds inside, work around them. Scoop out the fruit with a spoon and spit out the seeds. You can also use a potato peeler for the skin.

The texture of the pulp is creamy, avocado-like in texture.

Pawpaws begin to blacken just three days after they're picked, so if you cannot eat them quick enough, freeze the pulp for later use.

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